Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan is a historian, author and broadcaster. A former V&A curator, she is a specialist in the history of housing, interiors, products, consumerism and everyday life.
Deborah is Professor of Design History and Theory at University of Portsmouth and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
A presenter and series consultant for BBC Two’s ‘A House Through Time’, she appears in all four series. The programme is a fresh way of telling social history through the residents of a single house over a 200-300 year period. Deborah brings the changing interior of the house to life in her segments.
Other appearances include BBC One’s ‘Morning Live’; BBC Two’s ‘Inside the Factory’, ‘Business Boomers: Hot Property’; More 4’s ‘David Jason’s History of British Inventions’; Channel 4’s ‘No 57: The Story of a House’ and ‘Heaven, Hell or Suburbia’; Channel 5’s ‘Farrow and Ball: Inside the Posh Paint Factory’.
Deborah wrote and presented Trading Spaces for BBC Radio 4, which looked at the history of 5 high street businesses and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Her other radio appearances include ‘The Hidden History of the Window’, ‘The Hidden History of the Staircase’, ‘Laurence Llewellyn Bowen’s History of Home’, as well as interviews for You and Yours, Woman’s Hour and Today.
Deborah is the author of three books. Her first book The Ideal Home Through the Twentieth Century (Hazar) told the story of the Ideal Home Show from its founding in 1908 to the present. Her second book Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Manchester University Press) was awarded the 2020 Historians of British Art Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period After 1800. It was reissued as a trade book in 2020 with the title Ideal Homes: Uncovering the History and Design of the Interwar House and a new introduction on researching your house history.
Deborah has also contributed essays to the catalogues of the V&A exhibitions British Design, 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age and Food: Bigger Than the Plate and curated Ideal Homes for London’s Design Museum. She is currently writing a history of the modern kitchen, which was also the subject of her recent article for the Financial Times.
Deborah is founder and co-host of Twitter’s #HouseHistoryHour (via @HouseHistoryHr) on Thursdays at 1900. She has contributed blogposts and talks on house history to genealogy websites Findmypast and Family Tree Magazine.
Deborah has put her interest in the history of housing into practical use by renovating 6 houses, including a Grade II listed Georgian terrace, and an interwar ‘time capsule’ semi. She is also known for her vintage fashion style.